Children who take attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) medication shortly after symptoms appear, and who continue taking medication for longer periods of time, may be less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as adolescents, according to research published in the journal Labour Economics.
Impulsive or risky behavior can be common among people with ADHD. For example, a 2014 report published in the journal Pediatrics identified a link between being diagnosed with ADHD and abusing drugs and alcohol. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11% of children ages 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD in 2011. Seventy percent of children diagnosed with ADHD take medication.
Effects of ADHD Medications on Impulsive Behavior
Researchers analyzed Medicaid claims submitted between 2003 and 2013 for nearly 150,000 South Carolina children.
Compared to children with ADHD who did not take medication, children with ADHD who did take medication had significant decreases in high-risk behavior. Children who took medication saw a 3.6% reduction in their risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), a 2.3% reduction in their risk of injuries, and a 7.3% reduction in their risk of substance abuse.
In a sample of 14,000 teens, this translates into 512 fewer STD cases and 998 fewer cases of substance abuse. The study suggests ADHD medication could reduce the number of annual injuries sustained by children and teens younger than 19 by more than 6,000.
The Ongoing Debate Over ADHD Medicationacademic performance, undermined relationships with parents, and increased the risk of depression.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and physicians to try behavioral therapy for children with ADHD as a first step before considering other options, including medication. Statistics show a combination of therapy and medication is effective for 70-80% of children with ADHD.
- ADHD in young children. (2016, May 3). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/adhd/index.html
- Chorniy, A., & Kitashima, L. (2016). Sex, drugs, and ADHD: The effects of ADHD pharmacological treatment on teens’ risky behaviors. Labour Economics. doi:10.1016/j.labeco.2016.06.014
- Harstad, E., & Levy, S. (2014). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and substance abuse. Pediatrics, 134(1). doi:10.1542/peds.2014-0992
- Hotchkiss, M. (2016, July 18). ADHD medication reduces risky behavior in children, teens. Retrieved from http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S46/88/68S83/?section=topstories
- New data: Medications and psychological services among children ages 2-5 years (healthcare claims data). (2016, May 4). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.